Postdoctoral Research Associate - Bridging Structure and Scattering by Machine Learning

Date: Nov 9, 2023

Location: Oak Ridge, TN, US, 37830

Company: Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Requisition Id 11830 


We are seeking a postdoctoral research associate who will develop new method for determining the structural characteristics of diverse, highly interactive soft materials from their scattering features. This work will involve the integration of small angle scattering techniques and deep learning techniques.


Oak Ridge National Laboratory is the largest US Department of Energy science and energy laboratory, conducting basic and applied research to deliver transformative solutions to compelling problems in energy and security.  The Spallation Neutron Source (SNS) and the High-Flux Isotope Reactor (HFIR) are world-leading facilities and the scientific center of a diverse, international, and inclusive neutron scattering community.


In this role, the candidate will collaborate within a multidisciplinary and multi-institutional team dedicated to crafting mathematical frameworks essential for the quantitative inversion of structural characteristics within complex, highly cooperative soft materials. These materials encompass interacting colloidal suspensions, polyelectrolytes, and lyotropic phases, with the primary investigative tool being small-angle scattering. Specifically, the analytical platform aims to harness computer simulations using the computational resources of OLCF and a diverse set of mathematical principles rooted in deep learning to interpret small angle scattering data. Furthermore, the candidate will spearhead independent research efforts in the field of soft matter science, utilizing small-angle neutron and x-ray scattering techniques across various scattering facilities. 


Successful candidates will be selected via a panel interview process.  If this position interests, you and you meet the basic qualifications please apply.


Major Duties/Responsibilities: 

  • Formulate mathematical frameworks for quantitative structural characterization of complex, highly collective soft matter systems, including concentrated colloidal suspensions, polymer solutions, and lyotropic phases, by integrating the small angle scattering technique with principles of deep learning.
  • Conduct complementary MD and MC simulations.
  • Prepare beam time proposals and conduct the small angle neutron and x-ray scattering experiments.
  • Participate in an inclusive work environment for a diverse community of users, staff, postdocs, and students.
  • Report and publish scientific results in peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences and meetings.
  • Deliver ORNL’s mission by aligning behaviors, priorities, and interactions with our core values of Impact, Integrity, Teamwork, Safety, and Service. Promote diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility by fostering a respectful workplace – in how we treat one another, work together, and measure success.
  • This position requires that you successfully complete required training, including radiological training.


Basic Qualifications:

  • A PhD in physics, applied physics, chemistry, materials science, chemical engineering, or a related field.


Preferred Qualifications:

  • Experience for analyzing small angle scattering data of interacting soft materials is required. 
  • Experience for MD and MC simulations and trajectories analysis are highly desirable. 
  • A working knowledge of Python for data reduction and analysis is highly desirable. 
  • A motivated, self-starter that has the ability to work independently, as well as to participate creatively in collaborative teams.
  • A demonstrated ability to communicate research results in peer-reviewed publications.
  • Good interpersonal, communication, and presentation skills.
  • The ability to work within a multi-disciplinary team environment on scientifically challenging problems
  • The ability to function well in a fast-paced research environment, set priorities to accomplish multiple tasks within deadlines, and adapt to changing needs.


Applicants cannot have received their Ph.D. more than five years prior to the date of application and must complete all degree requirements before starting their appointment. The appointment length will be for up to 24 months with the potential for extension. Initial appointments and extensions are subject to performance and the availability of funding.


Please submit three letters of reference when applying to this position. You can upload these directly to your application or have them sent to with the position title and number referenced in the subject line.


Please include a discussion of your research interests and how neutron scattering can support your plan for research during your time at ORNL in your cover letter with your application.


Instructions to upload documents to your candidate profile:

  • Login to your account via
  • View Profile
  • Under the My Documents section, select Add a Document


Benefits at ORNL:  

ORNL offers competitive pay and benefits programs to attract and retain talented people. The laboratory offers many employee benefits, including medical and retirement plans and flexible work hours, to help you and your family live happy and healthy. Employee amenities such as on-site fitness, banking, and cafeteria facilities are also provided for convenience.


Other benefits include: Prescription Drug Plan, Dental Plan, Vision Plan, 401(k) Retirement Plan, Life Insurance, Pet Insurance, Generous Vacation and Holidays, Parental Leave, Legal Insurance with Identity Theft Protection, Employee Assistance Plan, Flexible Spending Accounts, Health Savings Accounts, Wellness Programs, Educational Assistance, Relocation Assistance, and Employee Discounts.


If you have difficulty using the online application system or need an accommodation to apply due to a disability, please email:


This position will remain open for a minimum of 5 days after which it will close when a qualified candidate is identified and/or hired.

We accept Word (.doc, .docx), Adobe (unsecured .pdf), Rich Text Format (.rtf), and HTML (.htm, .html) up to 5MB in size. Resumes from third party vendors will not be accepted; these resumes will be deleted and the candidates submitted will not be considered for employment.

If you have trouble applying for a position, please email

ORNL is an equal opportunity employer. All qualified applicants, including individuals with disabilities and protected veterans, are encouraged to apply.  UT-Battelle is an E-Verify employer.

Nearest Major Market: Knoxville